NEW YORK (Reuters) – In the past, home offices were often an afterthought: Ill-equipped, cramped, and a little dusty from only occasional use.
FILE PHOTO: A woman works in a house while workers are forced to work from home and demand payback for extra home office costs during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Sassenheim, Netherlands October 2, 2020. REUTERS/Eva Plevier/File Photo
Now in 2020, many home offices are looking more like the command center at NORAD: Multiple screens, high-tech capabilities, and professional Zoom-ready surroundings.
And all that costs money.
Good thing about two-thirds of companies are providing or reimbursing for needs of newly remote workers, according to a survey by HR consultancy Mercer: 55% are covering laptops, 33% mobile phones, 26% printers and 24% ergonomic equipment.
Only 32% of companies said they were not helping out with those costs.
“The shift to working remotely means many employees are now having to ask their firms to cover costs associated with setting up and maintaining a home office,” says Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, a wealth psychology expert and author of “Breaking Money Silence.” “This has many looking for best practices, for engaging in a home-office expense negotiation.”
Of course, we are in a new and fluid situation, and companies as well as employees are learning as they go.
The questions on most people’s minds: What exactly can you get reimbursed for? What can you deduct on your taxes? And how do you make an airtight case to your boss for things you think your company should really be paying for?
When considering the costs of a home-office setup, here are some issues to keep in mind.
DUST OFF YOUR NEGOTIATION SKILLS
Getting reimbursed for home-office expenses is not always a black-and-white issue – your bosses may need some convincing. So “think like the CFO,” advises Kingsbury. “Tie your request to an increase in productivity and revenue if at all possible.”
Do not try to bust their budget completely, with only top-of-the-line equipment, but give them a range of different options to choose from. And if you do get an initial ‘No’ ask what would have to change for your request to be granted, Kingsbury says. “Then work towards a second ask in a month or two,” she adds.
PICK YOUR BATTLES
Not every cost is going to get covered by your employer, so instead of aiming for the moon and asking for everything, focus on the items where you have the best rationale for financial support.
For example, in the Mercer survey, only 4% of companies report helping out with the cost of home utilities – so that area may not represent your best chance of success. In comparison, according to a new survey by the nonprofit organization WorldatWork, 25% of companies are covering Internet access for work-from-home employees – which could be a big help on a monthly basis.
CONSIDER TAX ISSUES
For salaried employees, your …….